Lights Out falls short of high standards, expectations

By Julia Chirls, Staff Writer

Ingrid Michealson’s album Lights Out was released April 15. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The many fans of Ingrid Michaelson may have had some disposable income on April 15, which coincided with the release of Lights Out, her new album. Michaelson’s career as an indie-pop, singer-songwriter began in 2002 when she performed at local venues and released her music through social media. In January of 2005, she released her very first studio album entitled Slow the Rain on her own label, Cabin 24 Records. She is commercially known for her song “Be OK,” and her music is often featured on TV shows such as Scrubs, Bones, and Grey’s Anatomy.

During Michaelson’s 12-year career, she released six studio albums. Her 2006 album, Girls and Boys, hit #1 on the US Heat peak chart, while Human Again hit #1 on the U.S. Indie peak chart in 2012. With this release, it could be, literally, Lights Out for this scrappy singer. She admitted to doing things differently this time — the first clue — employing several writers rather than writing on her own and diversifying the range of her music. However, she was fairly unsuccessful. She is noticeably out of her element.

The production of Lights Out began in 2013, when Michaelson began recording the only single on the album, “Girls Chase Boys.” It was released on Feb. 4, 2014, and, on iTunes, it is currently the most popular of the tracks. So maybe she should have, as they say, quit while she was ahead.

The song that kicks off the album is entitled “Home.”  She sounds timid, singing in the only place she feels safe. However, there are few lyrics, with significantly unvaried lines, at that. I would elaborate, but there simply isn’t any other underlying meaning that I can identify. There is a constant, catchy background jingle that adds some lightness to the song as a whole, but, here, you try to figure it out: “Even in the harshest of winter I feel so warm / Even when the marks climb up the wall I still feel small / This is my home / This is my home / Where I go when I’ve got nowhere else to go / This is my home / This is my home.”

Moving down the track list, “You Got Me” is the fourth song on the album. The song features Storyman, a pop-indie duo of Kevin May and Mick Lynch, which also wrote the lyrics.  The duo rose to fame as members of the band The Guggenheim Grotto.  They sing of a man pleading for his love to return. He describes how his life is without her and, later, what it is like when she re-enters it.

“And I’m tangled in thoughts of you / And I’m all alone till you come back home / Why don’t you come back home?” “Oh falling for the world again / Oh falling back to you / I was nailed shut like a shack on the edge of town / You were broken down / Till you came around.”

This song has a steady beat and is a significant improvement after “Home.” Storyman adds a nice contrast between both vocal sound as well as vocal style in comparison to Michaelson’s own performances.

“Living like you’re dying” are four of the many lyrics to “Afterlife,” the second most popular song on Lights Out and the twelfth song on the track list. These words make up the song, and we have heard it many times before. “When the world is breaking down around you / Taking everything / that you know / What you didn’t know / Is that we can go forever / If we want to we can live / Inside of a moment / The one that we own.”

Although the song sends an important message to listeners, Michaelson attempts to go out of her element, adding some rock-like sounds to the tune. It does not work.

Michaelson is scheduled to perform in Canada alongside Storyman and Alternate Routes. On April 21, they will travel to Montreal and on April 22, they will travel to Toronto. Lights Out is currently available for purchase on iTunes for $10.99. My disposable income will not be wasted on this.

 

First-year Julia Chirls is a staff writer. Her email is jchirls@fandm.edu.

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